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Bubble Boy Tim Herron would have given anything to play in front of the home fans at next week's PGA--except the chance to be there when his first child was born

Aug. 12, 2002
Aug. 12, 2002

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Aug. 12, 2002

College Football 2002

Bubble Boy Tim Herron would have given anything to play in front of the home fans at next week's PGA--except the chance to be there when his first child was born

Forgive Tim (Lumpy) Herron for sneaking a smoke last Friday near
the 11th tee at Castle Pines Golf Club. Smoking was prohibited on
the course because of the extremely dry conditions in
fire-ravaged Colorado, but Herron, a half-a-pack-a-day man, has
been under a lot of pressure this summer, and he couldn't help
himself.

This is an article from the Aug. 12, 2002 issue

Herron's wife, Ann, had given birth to the couple's first child,
an eight-pound, 11-ounce boy they named Carson (after Tim's
father), only nine days previously. While Herron, 32, was
thrilled to be a father, the timing of the blessed event couldn't
have been worse. Herron had only one top 25 finish in his first
17 starts this season, but was warming up with the weather. He
had had three top 20s, including a tie for second in Milwaukee,
in his last three tournaments to climb to 84th on the PGA
Championship qualifying list. If he could move up just 14 more
spots he would be guaranteed a berth in the tournament he has
been looking forward to for years--next week's final major of
2002, the PGA at Hazeltine, less than 20 miles from where Herron
grew up.

As her pregnancy entered its final weeks, Ann had offered to go
it alone, and she urged Tim to play in either of the two events
before the International. Agonizing over what to do, the dutiful
father-to-be skipped the B.C. Open and the John Deere Classic
and spent two weeks at home in Wayzata, Minn., to make sure he
would be at his wife's side in the delivery room. Six days after
Ann gave birth, Herron was on a plane for Denver and the
International, the last tournament in which the prize money
would count toward the PGA.

Herron made the first cut--on the number, with minus-2 Stableford
points--but the mountain of pressure finally caught up with him
last Saturday. He shot his worst score of the season, a 79
(minus-5 under the modified Stableford scoring system), and
failed to survive the second cut.

Herron left Colorado that evening no more certain of his fate
than when he had arrived. With the $8,730 he won at the
International, he was only 85th on the PGA list and no sure thing
to make the 156-man field. "The hardest part about the whole
thing is the waiting, whether for the baby or the PGA," Herron
said. "I've been on edge not knowing what my schedule is. The
only thing I can control is whether to be miserable or happy, so
I'm going to look at this as a win-win situation. If I get in,
great. If I don't, I get to stay home and be with my family."

The family, however, saw things differently. Herron's sisters,
Ketti, 36, and Alissa, 29, planned to throw a couple of barbecues
during PGA week, rent a double-decker bus to shuttle about 70
friends back and forth to Hazeltine and print T-shirts and caps
for them, proclaiming them to be members of LUMPY'S BUS BASH--on
one condition. "We're only going to do it if Tim plays," said
Ketti. "We're all so excited for him. Everyone wants him out on
that course because Tim is the ultimate Minnesota golfer."

The Herron family has deep roots in Minnesota golf. Herron's
paternal grandfather, the late Carson Lee Herron, won four state
titles in Minnesota and Iowa in the late '20s and early '30s, and
played in the 1934 U.S. Open, missing the cut. Tim's dad,
62-year-old Carson, qualified for the 1963 Open, at which he also
missed the cut, and is a 10-time club champ at Wayzata Country
Club. Alissa won the 1999 U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur (with Tim as
her caddie) and three straight Minnesota Women's Amateurs,
starting in 1996. "We're typical Minnesota bums," says Carson
jokingly.

An insurance salesman and an obsessive golfer, Carson would speak
of little else at the family dinner table. He'd analyze his game
and the swings of other Wayzata members. "He talked about it
every night," says Ketti. Carson also liked to check out Alissa's
and Tim's swings. (There are marks on the walls as proof.) When
the weather allowed, Alissa, Carson and Tim would sneak onto the
course after dinner--they lived right behind Wayzata's 17th
green--and play a few holes before dark. "Golf was a way of life
for us," says Ketti, the only one who didn't take an immediate
interest in the game. "My dad pushed us to be good players. Golf
was all he ever talked about, so you had to get involved or you
were the outcast."

Alissa is considered the most naturally gifted player in the
family, but Tim is the most determined. Carson tried to get him
involved in baseball, hockey and soccer, but Tim wasn't
interested in team sports. "He was more of a loner, the
introspective one in the family," Carson says. Wayzata members
would leave buckets of balls on the driving range for Tim and
often saw him putting alone in the dark. During the long summer
evenings, he'd come home with mosquito bites covering the back of
his neck.

Herron was a standout at Wayzata High, playing on the varsity
since the seventh grade, but went largely unnoticed outside the
state. His golf career only began to take off in college, at New
Mexico, and that might not have happened if a former assistant
pro at Wayzata who had moved to the Southwest hadn't recommended
Herron to the Lobos' coach, John Fields. "I was a decent player,
but it wasn't as if I was heavily recruited," Herron says. "The
only other place that offered me a scholarship was Minnesota." In
his four years at New Mexico, he won five tournaments and twice
was a first-team All-America. In 1993 Herron returned to
Minnesota to play in his first major international competition,
the Walker Cup, at Interlachen, in Edina, and went 3-0.

Herron turned pro not long after and earned his Tour card in the
fall of 1995. The next spring he won a rainy Honda Classic, and
since then has won twice more, at the 1997 Texas Open and the '99
Bay Hill Invitational. He has also played in the last six PGAs,
his best finish a 13th in 1997.

Other members of the family have their own records, of sorts, in
the Grand Slam events. During Tim's first Masters, in '96, Ketti
yelled, "Woo-woo!" when her brother teed off in the first round
and was promptly warned that she would be escorted from the
grounds at Augusta National if she continued. In 1997,
Minneapolis police wondered whether Alissa had stolen the claret
jug that another Minnesotan, Tom Lehman, had won at the 1996
British Open. Alissa, who works for SFX Golf--a management company
run by Lehman's brother, Jim--had merely taken the trophy to some
bars after a charity function, yelling, "Open up! We've got the
cup!" No one wants to talk about Tim's first major, the '95 U.S.
Open at Shinnecock Hills, a proud moment for the Herrons since a
third generation of the family was playing in the national
championship. The Herrons wound up staying in "some guy's barn,"
says Ketti. "It was so embarrassing. My dad didn't want to spend
any money. He's the biggest cheapskate ever."

Carson, his wife, Cean, Alissa and Tim are telling these tales of
majors past on a hot July morning while having breakfast on the
patio at Wayzata Country Club. Carson met Cean, 58, in 1962 at
Woodhill Country Club, which is about 10 minutes from Wayzata
Country Club. Carson was an assistant pro and Cean a lifeguard.
"We were both looking to marry a rich country-club type, and we
got stuck with each other," Carson says. Alissa met her future
mate, Corey Super, through golf as well. She worked in the pro
shop at Woodhill and he did the same at Wayzata. Alissa in turn
set up Tim with one of her friends, Ann Paulson, whose father
worked with Carson; they married in 2001.

Carson used to rib his kids no end. "I always teased them," he
says. "It toughened them up and made them unguarded and
unpretentious." Perhaps as a result, Tim, who packs 210 pounds on
his 5'10" frame, never worried about his weight and prides
himself on his nickname, Lumpy, which affords him a minor
celebrity. (Alissa has been dubbed Lumpette.) "I guess people
like me because I look like an average person," Herron says. "I'm
proud that people see me as the regular guy they can relate to."
Carson thinks his son would be even more popular if he dropped 40
pounds. "Think of how handsome he'd be," he says. "He has those
piercing blue eyes, like Paul Newman's. He'd be like Tiger, with
all the girls chasing after him."

On Sunday, Herron was back in his modest three-bedroom town house
in Wayzata with Ann and two-week-old Carson. He was too busy
helping Ann--and being philosophical--to watch much of Rich Beem's
exciting victory over Steve Lowery at the International. "It'd be
tough to swallow if I don't make [the PGA]," Herron said, "but my
child doesn't care about my career. What he needs is for me to
take care of him. PGA or no PGA, my family will always come
first."

It wasn't until the following afternoon that Herron got the
definitive word. He was in--barely. After taking the top 70 on the
points list, the PGA had sifted through nine more categories of
qualification. When that number came to only 139 players, the
next 17 on the points list were added to the field. Herron felt
as if he had won the lottery. "Wow!" he said after getting the
news from a reporter. "This means the bus bash is on! This is a
huge relief."

Then he was on to the next problem: Where's a guy going to get
tickets for half of Wayzata?

COLOR PHOTO: PHOTOGRAPH BY DARREN CARROLL PGA PREVIEW [INSIDE COVER] Boy Makes Good...Barely Minnesota's Tim Herron Sweats Out Fatherhood And Getting into the PGA PLUS Rich Beem Withstands Eagle, Double-Eagle AssaultCOLOR PHOTO: PHOTOGRAPHS BY DARREN CARROLL PROUD PAPA Having spent two weeks at home with Ann awaiting Carson's arrival, Herron hoped to play his way into the PGA at the International.COLOR PHOTO: BOB RIVES/USGA/AP LUMPETTE Alissa, the '99 U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur champion, is said to have more natural talent than her brother.THREE COLOR PHOTOS: PHOTOGRAPHS BY DARREN CARROLL WILD THING Herron's layoff caught up with him last Saturday, when he shot a 79 at Castle Pines, his worst score of the year.
"The hardest part is the waiting," says Herron, who finally
learned of his fate on Monday afternoon.